We might as well come out say it, we don’t like “banner ads” that much.  Then again, its not like we have a fondness for billboards on the side of the highway either.  Its just that sometimes they can get in our way as a pop up advertisement, or slow down a web page.  In the world of banner advertisements, most people suffer from “banner blindness,” which means we can basically see an ad flickering below and ignore it.

Many advertisers know that a pretty face will work better than a not so pretty one – hey, its something nice to look at.  But the online degree market is a fiercely competitive  one, and the advertising companies stand to make big bucks.  Just think, for each “conversion” (a person who clicks the ad and submits a form with their contact information ) there is a commission paid to the advertiser.  The only way that is going to happen is by ensuring that the ad is being seen, and not suffering from “banner blindness.”

The ad to the right I have seen on CNN, MySpace, and other popular sites.  The funny part is that obviously this is not the first time a pretty face has been featured in the ad, but now, that’s about all that is left! For online degree programs there used to be pictures of good looking men and women behind laptop computers, possibly wearing a cliche pair of eyeglasses.  Some had backgrounds of tropical beaches, so as to say “you can get a degree right on the beach!”

I have seen this banner ad for nearly two years.  So its not a phase, and it safe to conclude that it is working.  Keep the following guidelines in mind when creating a banner ad:

  • Simple – It is easier for the mind to grasp a single concept and act on it.
  • Good picture – If you are going to use a face, make it a pretty, smiling face.
  • Audience – Know who your customer is.  The ad company you work with should be asking these questions, particularly if they are helping you create the ad.
  • Size – Not all ads are the same size, so be sure to understand the real estate you have to work with.

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